Headlines like, “A healthy diet costs three times that of junk food” make me so mad – they just add fuel to the fire of the widely held (yet totally incorrect) belief that eating healthy is too expensive for the average person. This simply isn’t true!
Yes, a 2014 study did compare the price of healthy versus unhealthy food on a cost per calorie basis, and found that healthy food is three times dearer. But this is a very simple way of looking at a very complex issue, as the nutrient density of the food per ££ (and the subsequent cost of this to our health in the long term) was not considered at all.
For instance, while a frozen pizza may be cheaper than a veg-packed salad with salmon, what are the long terms implications (and costs) of eating pizza for dinner every night over the course of a year, or two, or ten? Sure, you may have saved some money. But you could be paying in other ways – obesity, diabetes, other serious illnesses.
I strongly believe that eating for health is accessible to everyone, even those who are on a very tight budget. But I’ll be honest – while it is possible to cook healthier foods at lower cost, it can require more planning and preparation. But the benefits are so great, it’s definitely worth it. Here are 6 ways to eat healthy, no matter how much (or little) money you have:
1. Eat seasonally
In season fruit and veg are usually at their cheapest, tastiest and most nutritious – especially if they were sourced locally. It can be very hard to tell what’s in season at the supermarkets (as we ship in produce from all over the world, all year round) but websites such as this can help you stay informed. Also, try shopping at local greengrocers and markets whenever you can. You’ll support the local economy and save money.
2. Don’t forget the frozen aisle
People often worry that frozen produce doesn’t contain as many nutrients as fresh. But because frozen fruit and veggies are usually frozen right after being picked, they may actually contain MORE nutrients than fresh produce, which tends to sit in storage for weeks (or months) before reaching the supermarket shelves. Not only is frozen produce generally cheaper, but you can use it as and when – and in the correct amount – you need, which can help prevent a lot of wastage.
3. Be savvy with your staples
Stock up on healthy tinned foods like beans, pulses, fish and tomatoes, which can form the basis of lots of great meals. Tinned beans (kidney beans, butter beans, black beans) are a particularly great way of bulking out chilli, Bolognese, soup and stew. Plus, they’re packed full of fibre, protein and energy-boosting B vitamins.
4. Steer clear of supermarket “express” stores
Especially those in city centres – the price of produce is hugely bumped up! It may be convenient to pop into one of these after work, but you end up spending a lot more.
5. Don’t worry too much about the latest “superfoods”
Although foods like maca and spirulina are great, humble veggies such as kale, cabbage and spinach pack a pretty big nutritional punch too!
6. Make some simple switches
Yes, nuts are full of nutrients but they can also be expensive. In comparison, seeds (such as sunflower and pumpkin) are equally packed with vitamins and minerals, but cost a fraction of the price.